Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday 9 June 2003

The buck-passing starts as the Scottish Parliament building fiasco continues

According to the Edinburgh Evening News, “First Minister Jack McConnell has indicated he will back MSPs who want to launch legal action against some of the contractors involved.”

The scrambling begins to try and pin the blame on “contractors who have allowed the costs to reach £375m - almost 10 times the original estimate”. Any action will be brought by the Scottish Parliament as a corporate body under the auspices of its Presiding Officer George Reid MSP (SNP); he took over at the beginning of this parliament from the former Presiding Officer Lord Steel (LibDem). According to the article, it is believed “the corporate body’s case is based on the ‘cast-iron guarantees’ given by contractors that the final cost of the parliament would not exceed £338m.”

I suspect that what this whole mess is indicative of is that those who should have been supervising this expenditure on the taxpayer’s behalf, our Scottish Parliamentary representatives [aka the ‘Corporate Body’], have failed in their duty to do this, probably because many of those involved have never run a business or had any connection of any kind with the non state-funded economy – a consequence of this being that they most probably have little idea of how a commercial contract needs to be drawn up. ‘Corporate governance’ is something with which most have, at best, only a passing acquaintance. Undoubtedly the contracts were not scrutinised adequately by legal experts acting on our, the taxpaying public’s, behalf. Equally undoubtedly, lawyers acting on behalf of the contracting companies involved will not have been so dilatory in their activities, on behalf of their own paymasters.

It is probable, in my view, that ‘corporate fat-cats’ will be held responsible for this out-of-control spending, rather than the managerial incompetence of those charged with protecting our interests – our elected representatives, who should have employed their own experts to negotiate all the contracts on our behalf, with appropriate penalty clauses for non-compliance, having accepted that they did not have the expertise to attempt to do this themselves.

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